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Search for escaped cobra costs over €30,000

DDP/The Local · 21 Mar 2010, 08:03

Published: 21 Mar 2010 08:03 GMT+01:00

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The three-month old monocled cobra, which belongs to a 19-year-old snake breeder, escaped during the night and was reported missing on Thursday. About finger-width in diameter, the potentially deadly serpent measures 30 centimetres long.

The city enlisted reptile experts from Düsseldorf’s fire department to search each room, as well as the two apartments beneath the owner’s home.

“The top-floor apartment has been completely gutted,” city spokesman Volker Wiebels said this weekend. “They assume the animal is still in the house and has hidden himself in a warm corner.”

Though the team removed all furniture, floorboards and wall coverings in the apartment, they have found no trace of the snake. “We’re putting down flour to let us see where the animal has wriggled around,” Wiebels said.

The city plans to keep looking, but the search is getting prohibitively expensive, and Wiebels estimated a total cost in the mid-to-high five-figure range.

“From a legal standpoint, it’s clear that the person who caused this, the owner of the snake, should pay for it,” Wiebels said. The young man visited his home on Saturday, but would not comment on the case.

Story continues below…

Despite being evacuated from their apartments, his fellow residents have stayed calm. “I don’t hold a grudge against him,” the man’s neighbour said. “The main problem is that you’re allowed to have these animals as pets – they’re as dangerous as weapons.”

It’s not the first time the city's fire department has been called on to catch a dangerous creature. They were faced with a similar case in 1997 involving a scorpion mother and her spawn.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:50 March 21, 2010 by The-ex-pat
A similar case in 1997 and now this! We must be due a knee jerk reaction from a politician or two and some prime time face time on the box at least!!
11:27 March 21, 2010 by Kayak
It's one snake and a baby one. At best it has one lonely summer of life before the winter kills it. Quite rightly, the story is about the high cost and the over reaction. Every thirteen years ...
11:34 March 21, 2010 by dcgi
I was surprised you're allowed to keep a cobra that hasn't been defanged/milked/whatever it is they do to make it safe. What's the thinking behind it?
13:00 March 21, 2010 by dbert4
The cheapest solution, burn the house down, kill it when it trys to escape, problem solved. If it doesn't try to escape, problem solved.
13:53 March 21, 2010 by Frenemy
"cheapest solution"... yeah, cuz the house costs less than €30,000, right?! :-/
19:53 March 21, 2010 by dbert4
No cuz the snake still hasn't been found and they're destroying the house anyway trying to find it. IF you would have read the story, you would have noticed that the search is costing 850€ PER HOUR.

That would be the cost for the Feuerwehr to search. Burn the house search over.
20:29 March 21, 2010 by Frenemy
Burn the house even tho the damn SNAKE might not even be there anymore? What next? Carpet bomb the neighborhood?! (we're talking about a creepy little critter that requires HEAT to live and might cause a little pain/discomfort IF it bites someone - assuming the anti-venom is in relative proximity...which, at this point, it bloody well should be!)

Shutting off power and/or gassing the house would eliminate or expel the offending reptile, and oh yeah... a number of people might still have a home to go back to when everyone is done escalating a minor animal control problem into a damn public safety crisis.
20:41 March 21, 2010 by dbert4
Well damn, damn, damn! Don't get yourself so worked up.
21:46 March 21, 2010 by Dire
What idiot in the government approved the zoning and import laws to allow any one indivdual to house or otherwise bring in to this country a non-indiginous speciies and potentially destroy the ecosystem - even if it was by accident? Well intentioned or not, this individual has burdened the local fire department financially as well as putting the building renters safety at stake. These are not just 'pets' people, cobras are dangerous, venomous reptiles that can maim & kill. They definitely do NOT belong in an apartment building or private residence. They belong in a zoo or back in their native lands, not here. Have we learned nothing from the damage being done to the eco-systems in Australia and the United States? The cane toad, rabbit, carp and boa constrictor just to name a few have been introduced into ecosystems with very destructive AND costly results. Hell, just the other day a friend of mine pointed out that not too long ago, someone caught a 13in piranha in a local Utah lake...! Luckily it turned out to be a pacu. Oh yea, pacu are relatives of the piranha and also illegal. Next time it might be a 8ft freshwater crocodile swimming in your local pond...
21:52 March 21, 2010 by rakeshsharma
I have a simple solution bring a sapera(snake catcher ) from india 500€ with return ticket and give him just 50€ ur cobra comes out in 50 min 100%
22:58 March 21, 2010 by MaKo
So, I can't be a scientologist, but I can have a baby cobra in my house? One of these things seems a bit more dangerous than the other.
23:22 March 21, 2010 by Frenemy
As far as I know, cobras don't try to indoctrinate you into their subversive reptile religion...
00:06 March 22, 2010 by whatzup
A cobra is more dangerous than a scientologist? Not when you're a bit confused and have some discretionary income.
06:06 March 22, 2010 by wenddiver
Get a Mongoose! They kill Cobras all the time in India.
10:02 March 22, 2010 by Mh0926
I know i shouldn't, but this news really make me laugh at my tea-break time. ;D

I am pondering how will they do after finally catch the cobra?

EUR 30,000... wow.
20:24 March 22, 2010 by cotongrll
He said it's really not my habit to lose snakes

But every cobra breeder is bound to have bad breaks

Yes, and 30,000 Euros is an expensive mistake

There must be 50 ways to catch a cobra

50 ways to catch a cobra

Get a big stick, Nick, Grab a large can Jan

Don't be a klutz, Lutz... just capture that snake.

Blow up the flat, Matt, or set a mongoose loose.

You gotta be brave, Dave... and capture that snake

(with apologies to Paul Simon)
01:33 March 23, 2010 by antrodemus
The cobra owner and the authorities are overreacting.

It is unlikely that such a snake will survive beyond the summer in the German climate, and it certainly won't reproduce, so it doesn't pose any threat to the environment at large. It certainly won't cause any damage like cane toads in Australia or pythons in the Everglades.

The cheapest and perhaps best solution would be to enlist volunteer reptile enthusiasts (or biology students) to catch it. I was once a member a reptile club (though not in Germany) that regularly answered emergency calls to remove unwanted or dangerous reptiles (escaped or wild). The group were so good at what they did, that they often did it on behalf of local authorities, rather like private contractors, except without any exorbitant fees.

I would volunteer to catch it myself if I lived in Cologne. :) If it's a pet, it's probably used to people anyway. Even dangerous reptiles become docile in human company with enough contact.
07:33 March 23, 2010 by Frenemy
...I know, right?! That's what I keep saying about the 'gators under NYC and the 20ft anacondas in the glades! lol ;-)

Ok but seriously tho, yeah they really did over-react about this.
14:19 March 23, 2010 by zeulf
cottongrill Well done
22:41 March 23, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I think the cobra's hiding on these blogs trying to disguise itself as a blackbird.
23:28 March 23, 2010 by Frenemy
Actually, I think its currently disguised as "cotongrll".... (post #19 has to be some sort of cobra dialect)!
04:29 March 24, 2010 by warriorwithin
a cobra escapes, big deal. We have so many cobras here in India in the wild which keep creeping into our gardens all the time.... we dont u ppl just leave it alone. nothings gonna happen
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